Just days after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared that President Omar El Bashir was free to travel to Uganda- it has now done an about turn and said he could be arrested.The change of position is however being sold differently. Uganda says it remains committed to the International Criminal Court and plans to strengthen it. At the same it claims it is also committed to the African Union which this month opposed the arrest warrants against Bashir. Appearing together yesterday at a press conference junior minister of foreign affairs rs [ International Relations] Hon Henry Okello Oryem and ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo spoke in different tongues. “An arrest warrant for Bashir has been deposited at the office of the Solicitor General.
It’s up to [ Inspector General of Police] Gen Kale Kayihura to arrest him” said Oryem who also wore a bemused look of mild impatience as Ocampo verbosely explained that the African Union was not a party to the Rome Statute and that Uganda was consequently not bound by the “political” discussions meant to shield Bashir from trial at the Hague. “It’s a legal obligation for Uganda to arrest Bashir were he to come to Uganda. Bashir should know this before he comes” he said adding that the arrest will “eventually” happen. It also transpired that Mr. Ocampo was on an unscheduled visit to Uganda which is the first country to refer a case to the ICC and will be the first to host a conference next year to review its operations. If Ocampo intended to scuttle a visit by Bashir to a signatory to the Rome Statute it appears to have worked. Oryem declared that even if Uganda was obligated to arrest Bashir that he was “no chicken thief” and had been informed about the warrants so that he would make up his mind about the risks of journeying to Kampala for the Smart Partnership meeting later this month.
submitted to the Daily Monitor